Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Two Blog-Reading Interests Overlap

Besides being interested in food, I love reading blogs about language. There's an overlap this week: a foodie word became Oxford University Press word of the year. Quote from the announcement on the OUP website:
The 2007 Word of the Year is (drum-roll please) locavore. ...

The “locavore” movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to grow or pick their own food, arguing that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locavores also shun supermarket offerings as an environmentally friendly measure, since shipping food over long distances often requires more fuel for transportation....

“Locavore” was coined two years ago by a group of four women in San Francisco who proposed that local residents should try to eat only food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius.

Over at (the writers always refer to their blog this way), Benjamin Zimmer of OUP has also been reporting on research about the reason why the four women chose the spelling "locavore" rather than "localvore." From Zimmer's Languagelog post:

I wondered why the original "locavores" ... chose that particular spelling instead of localvore with an extra l, favored by some other groups. I wrote: "Unlike other word formations lost in the mists of time, this is a case where the origin can be firmly pinpointed, so perhaps the true story of loca(l)vore will be revealed in more detail by the coiners themselves." Well, sure enough, the coiner of locavore, Jessica Prentice, emailed to explain how she came up with the word.

Jessica writes:

I thought about both "localvore" and "locavore" and decided on the latter. First of all, it's easier to say, has a better flow, and almost sounds like a "real" word. But also my understanding is that the prefix "loc(a)" has to do with place — as in "location", "locomotive" and "locus"... The ending "vore" has to do with eating, and is the same root as the word "devour". To me the word "locavore" means, in a sense, "a person who eats the place" or even "one who eats with a sense of place" or, better yet, "one who devours the place" (I enjoy eating). To have used "localvore" would have limited the possible resonances and shades of meaning of the word — in my opinion. [FROM "Locavore vs. localvore: the coiner speaks"]
To summarize my favorite language blogs:
  • Languagelog -- This is a fascinating blog by several famous linguists.
  • Linguist and editor Benjamin Zimmer's Oxford University Press Blog -- OUP are the Oxford English Dictionary folks.
  • You Don't Say -- John McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun's assistant managing editor for the copy desk, looks at issues of language and writing.

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